The Ontario college strike is in the middle of its fourth week, and students continue to be left uncertain.
Jahmoyia Smith, Fanshawe Student Union’s advocacy and communications coordinator, said that they are trying their best to support the needs of students. As a full-time student herself, she sympathizes with the stress and anxiety that students are experiencing.
“The students just really want to get back into the classroom, and that’s one of our main priorities right now,” said Smith. “Just get them learning and get them that quality education that they paid for.”
Smith said that students were disappointed this weekend when the faculty union rejected the most recent offer from the College Employer Council. According to a Fanshawe update, the college faculty union is expected to vote on the latest contract offer on Tuesday, Nov. 14.
Two second-year practical nursing students at Fanshawe, Bethany Baglieri and Michelle Wright, are organizing a rally this Friday afternoon in protest of the strike.
“It’s been the union and the faculty back and forth, and nothing really has been said about the students,” expressed Wright. “We heard a lot about how they support us and that this is for us, but we think not.”
Baglieri said that students are the ones who are being directly affected by the strike as students are paying for the education that they are not receiving. For example, they explained how it was unfair that Western students in the collaborative nursing program with Fanshawe are not able to attend their classes and receive the same quality of education as Western’s nursing students.
“This isn’t about us getting mad at the [teachers],” said Baglieri. “It’s just getting our word out to the union that this needs to end and that we have rights.”
Both Baglieri and Wright are hoping that the vote next week will result in students returning to school.
Although Teri Michalargias, a third-year music recording arts student at Western and Fanshawe, won't be in London to attend the rally, she thinks that it is a good idea to make sure that the students' voices are heard.
“If I'm going to have to miss school that I paid for, I might as well just not be going to Fanshawe and just get my Western degree,” said Michalargias. “Right now, the strike isn't helping us. Maybe it can help us in the long run, especially with our education at Fanshawe, but time is money.”
According to a Fanshawe email update, Fanshawe College is currently working on a fall 2017 semester completion plan to make sure that students are able to complete their term. Depending on how long the strike continues, fall term studies are expected to run until Friday, Dec. 22, 2017 and into January 2018.
In an email sent out by Fanshawe’s corporate communications, they ensured its students that Fanshawe continues to be committed to responding to any questions or concerns. Students are able to email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the strike hotline at 519-452-4277.